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(2016) Journal of Environmental Management, . Article in Press.

Extending the scope of eco-labelling in the food industry to drive change beyond sustainable agriculture practices

Miranda-Ackerman, M.A., Azzaro-Pantel, C.

ABSTRACT :

- New consumer awareness is shifting industry towards more sustainable practices, creating a virtuous cycle between producers and consumers enabled by eco-labelling. Eco-labelling informs consumers of specific characteristics of products and has been used to market greener products. Eco-labelling in the food industry has yet been mostly focused on promoting organic farming, limiting the scope to the agricultural stage of the supply chain, while carbon labelling informs on the carbon footprint throughout the life cycle of the product. These labelling strategies help value products in the eyes of the consumer. Because of this, decision makers are motivated to adopt more sustainable models. In the food industry, this has led to important environmental impact improvements at the agricultural stage, while most other stages in the Food Supply Chain (FSC) have continued to be designed inefficiently.
- The objective of this work is to define a framework showing how carbon labelling can be integrated into the design process of the FSC. For this purpose, the concept of Green Supply Chain Network Design (GSCND) focusing on the strategic decision making for location and allocation of resources and production capacity is developed considering operational, financial and environmental (CO2 emissions) issues along key stages in the product life cycle. A multi-objective optimization strategy implemented by use of a genetic algorithm is applied to a case study on orange juice production.
- The results show that the consideration of CO2 emission minimization as an objective function during the GSCND process together with techno-economic criteria produces improved FSC environmental performance compared to both organic and conventional orange juice production. Typical results thus highlight the importance that carbon emissions optimization and labelling may have to improve FSC beyond organic labelling. Finally, CO2 emission-oriented labelling could be an important tool to improve the effects eco-labelling has on food product environmental impact going forward. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.